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August 2019 CMO Survey: Hiring, AI on the Rise

Sarah Steimer

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Marketing budgets make up 12% of overall firm budgets, according to the August 2019 CMO Survey, matching the highest level in the history of the survey

Administered twice a year via an internet survey, The CMO Survey observes emerging marketing trends via the opinions of 341 top marketers of for-profit U.S. companies. The August 2019 survey identified marketing budgets making up 12% of overall firm budgets, matching an all-time high. Marketer optimism in the overall U.S. economy also increased to 59.8 on a 0-100 scale. This is up from 57 in February, but below the all-time high of 69.9.

In terms of major career-related trends, CMO Survey founder Christine Moorman, also the T. Austin Finch Sr. Professor of Business Administration at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, points to findings around how new technology will replace marketing employees. Although 57.6% of respondents reported that they are not currently replacing employees with new tech, the number is expected to fall to 37.5% in the coming three years. “That shift will be greater … for companies that have a greater percentage of their sales on the internet,” Moorman says.

When asked what technology she expects to replace employees, Moorman points to findings that show the rise of artificial intelligence. There was a 27% reported increase in implementation of AI or machine learning into companies’ marketing toolkits since the question was first asked in February 2018—and marketers expect the technologies to be implemented at even higher levels in the coming three years. The top three uses for AI in marketing are content personalization (56.5%), predictive analytics for customer insights (56.5%) and targeting decisions (49.6%).

 

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It’s not all robots in the future, though: Hiring growth is also on the rise, with a 6.2% increase in marketing hires planned in the coming 12 months, up from a 5.1% increase reported in February. 

Another interesting shift in the survey is in regard to what marketing leaders expect customers to prioritize in the coming 12 months. Respondents expect customers to place a greater emphasis on excellent service (28% increase) and superior product quality (12% increase). The pressure for low price has dropped by 17% since the February survey.

The survey, sponsored by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, Deloitte and the AMA, included these additional key findings:

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  • When marketers were asked to compare their customer experience performance to competitors, they generally rated their own firms poorly. Their top three challenges in relation to CX were developing the necessary capabilities inside the organization to design, deliver and monitor the customer experience (13.4%); determining the contribution of each touchpoint to the overall customer experience and identifying critical touchpoints (12.1%); and integrating touchpoints seamlessly across the entire customer journey (11.2%).
  • Social media spending fell slightly in the February survey, but increased to 11.9% of marketing budgets (its highest point was 13.8% of budgets in August 2018). Marketing spend on mobile continues its climb, coming in at 12.8% and expected to reach 21.8% in five years.
  • Respondents said marketing expenses account for 9.8% of their firm’s revenues, up from 7.3% in August 2018.

Read more about Moorman’s top takeaways on Forbes, and read the full report here.

Sarah Steimer is a staff writer for the AMA's magazines and e-newsletters. She may be reached at ssteimer@ama.org or on Twitter at @sarah_steimer.